One Year Later
Everyone was in good spirits; chatting animatedly to those they knew, eating and drinking with much enthusiasm, occasionally shouting greetings across the room to other people they knew.
Except for one group. They were over in the corner, away from the mass of people in the middle, talking with heads bent forward so they could hear each other.
They were talking to a dark haired woman with a piece of parchment and a quill in her hand. She seemed to be writing down what the others said.
"… So that's what happened," Luna finished.
Draco's arm was around her, and she couldn't be more glad of that. Her story wasn't particularly hard to tell, nor was it painful or even difficult for her, but it was nice to feel the comforting arm around her waist anyway.
The brunette scribbled something else down on the parchment.
"That was a wonderful story," she said, looking up at them all.
"Hopefully people reading it won't think its some elaborate joke that we made up," Blaise said from beside Harry.
"I didn't screw things up for nothing," came Pansy's voice over beside Neville.
"So you two finally ended up together huh?" the brunette asked, tilting her head to one side.
"Yeah, best thing to happen really," Neville smiled down at Pansy.
"So, how was the wedding?" the woman said, switching her attention to Ginny and Jake.
"Just wonderful," Ginny grinned.
There was a soft ripple of laughter from the group; Ginny had had one of the most memorable wedding parties they'd seen. Not that many of them could remember exactly why this was so; the Firewhiskey had been in full flow that night, though Draco had steered clear of it.
"So, does the wizarding world have anything to worry about, now that the Dark Lord has gone?" the woman asked.
"There's always going to be Evil in the world," Hermione answered diplomatically, "but there'll always be someone around to stop it from taking over."
"That was very moving," Ron said quietly to her. "What brought that on?"
"Well it's the truth," she said, shrugging.
The reporter went around the circle, asking questions and writing things down on her parchment. When she came to Draco, she looked up and considered him for a few moments.
"What made you switch sides?" she asked suddenly.
Draco looked as though he'd been dreading this question for a long time. He turned his gaze to the floor, and when he spoke, it was in an almost emotionless voice.
"The Dark Arts have always played a big part in my life. When my father took me to be initiated into the Death Eater ranks, I thought nothing of it. Just serving a greater purpose than myself, to make the world a better place." Here he sighed and paused for a few seconds before continuing. "Then Blaise came along and showed me that there was more to life than serving the Dark Lord."
Blaise shifted guiltily in her seat. Draco noticed and smiled slightly.
"I can't excuse what I did, especially to Pansy, but Blaise is … damn good at her job," he said with another smile. "I didn't even question her motives when I – well, when I was with her. But then the Dark Lord told me to kill her," he added calmly, listening to the multiple gasps from the circle. "And I couldn't. So he used the Imperius Curse, and he almost succeeded. Blaise ducked just in time. That wasn't what convinced me to turn my back on the Dark Arts though. It was when she Stunned me instead of killing me, like she should have done. That made me realise that there are some things power can't buy.
"Blaise had refrained from killing me, even though it was my fault that I almost killed her. The least I could do was to save her life if she ever needed it. And then the Order had confronted Voldemort; he was almost gone, but they seemed to be struggling for power. I didn't really have any idea what I was going to do when I regained consciousness; I just saw them standing around Harry, one wand performing the Killing Curse and Voldemort almost dead. It was kind of just instinct when I went and joined them and the Dark Lord was finally destroyed."
There was a collective silence when Draco had finished his story; even the reporter had stopped writing on the parchment for a moment. Then she quickly began to take notes again in a swift, frenzied sort of way while the rest of the group took in Draco's words.
"I never realised how hard I made it for you" Blaise said softly, and there were real tears in her eyes. "I am so sorry"
Draco waved her apology away; "If you hadn't done what you did, I wouldn't be sat here with you tonight; I'd be locked up in some cell in Azkaban. And I wouldn't have you," he added to Luna, tightening his grip around her a fraction.
Luna smiled but said nothing; she was really rather embarrassed, because everyone was looking at her right now, with the kind of knowing smiles that she hated. But she couldn't really say anything to them, not tonight of all nights.
An hour later, the reporter stood up, shaking hands with everyone.
"Thank you for your time; I'll let you know whether we're going to print it in tomorrow's newspaper, or turn it into a book. My boss likes both ideas," she smiled. "Just for the record; that was the most amazing thing I've ever heard. I'm honoured to have met you all."
Everyone said their goodbyes to the reporter and she left, taking her notebook and quill with her.
The group she had been talking to soon stood up and dispersed around the room, chatting to the others and concentrating on having fun.
It was exactly a year since Voldemort had been defeated by Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The furore had all but died down, but the Daily Prophet, along with every other newspaper in the wizarding world, had decided to do a special edition, including interviews with the people who had been in the midst of the event, complete with highly coloured photographs, and glorious retellings of the final battle.
Draco had finally managed to settle down in Malfoy Manor. His mother kept to herself mostly, in the house, but she did eventually accept Luna for a daughter-in-law and even deigned to give them a proper wedding when the time came. Draco was granted custody of Rhiannon and Draco Jr, and they spent half their time with him, and the other half with Pansy. On the whole, the divorce from Pansy had gone rather well; they were still friends and stayed in touch often. He still wasn't sure whether he'd made the right decision when it came to joining the Light side. Every so often, one of the old Death Eaters would manage to sneak onto the Manor grounds and try to get him back for turning on them. More often than not, the security alarms had picked up on them before they even reached the first gates and a simple Stunning spell had kept them at bay until the Aurors arrived. But it was enough to make Draco think about his decision. He eventually had to accept that he'd done the most self-serving thing; just like any Slytherin would have done. He had protected himself and things had gone almost better than he'd imagined. A lengthy sentence in Azkaban had been evaded and he was living a next-to-perfect life.
Now that he was finally living life the way he wanted, Harry spent most of his time hunting down all the Death Eaters who had managed to escape the night Voldemort had fallen. When he'd been trying to rid the world of the Darkest wizard of the century, he'd always imagined he'd retire to a peaceful, normal life. But it wasn't to be; Harry had found early on in his retreat from the wizarding world, that he hated to remain inactive for too long. He needed to be in on the action, fighting his way out of difficult situations just to feel even a semblance of his old self. He'd become restless at home, until finally, sick of watching him pace the room endlessly, Blaise had pointed out that there were still Death Eaters to be rounded up. Harry had jumped at the chance, and now, accompanied by anyone who wanted to join him, he was off, trekking across the globe in search of the last of Voldemort's followers.
Blaise wasn't quite so obsessed with getting rid of her old accomplices, but she did want to see justice get served, so she joined Harry whenever he decided to take off on a long, rough journey that would hopefully end with the capture of one or two Death Eaters. It wasn't quite the married life she'd been expecting, but it did make for a good honeymoon, and this year's anniversary getaway. So she did whatever she could to make herself and Harry happy as they could be away from their home in the English countryside. Though Harry didn't mind roughing it, Blaise always insisted on taking a wizard's tent with them wherever they went; she had been brought up in a well-to-do household, and she wasn't about to start living in any and every hovel they came to.
Pansy, meanwhile, was pregnant with another child. She and Neville were so busy planning for the new baby that she barely had time to dwell on the previous year. It hadn't been easy, but it hadn't been all that bad. It was nice that she and Draco could still remain on good terms, and that the children still got to see their father – not that Pansy would've stopped them anyway. Neville was so good to Rhiannon and Draco Jr, but he'd never pretended to be a surrogate father to them. He even said himself that they still had a paternal figure in their lives, and that one was quite enough to be going on with. Pansy would look back on the last year cheerfully, knowing that everything had happened because it was meant to be. She and Draco had fallen apart because the temptation had proved too great, sure, but it had shown her that no one was perfect, not even herself.
Ginny was still getting used to being a married woman. She hadn't expected it to be so easy; whenever she had envisioned getting hitched, she had always imagined having to work every day just to keep the relationship going. But she and Jake were extremely happy, and it came surprisingly easily, being his wife. She loved the days when they both had no previous engagements; when they stayed in bed all morning; when they had lunch outside in the garden – or in the heated conservatory during the winter – and when they walked to their favourite restaurant and had a spectacular meal. Every single moment spent with Jake was a moment she would treasure forever. Out of bad things come the good, she always said now.
If Luna had learnt anything, it was that life was unexpected. Things didn't always happen in nice, neat little episodes so you could anticipate them; they jumped out at you, twisted around you, went backwards. All to make sure life didn't get boring. And, Luna realised, that was the way she liked it. Falling for Draco hadn't been something she'd pictured herself doing in a year or two's time, but then, she hadn't really expected to be doing her father's work prematurely, or ridding the world of Voldemort's existence. True, people were even more wary these days, than when the Dark Lord had first fallen, but that was only to be expected. People thought that if he could come back once, he could probably do it again. And yet, here they all were, a year later, celebrating the anniversary of the final battle. Celebrating one more year of life that they hadn't been expecting to live. And it felt good to finally do so. Just as it felt good to be with Draco.
They gathered together again, near midnight, raised their glasses high to the ceiling, commemorated those who had given so much for the cause, and just basically lived for the first time in years. They were all so happy and grateful for something they had once taken for granted, and as the first chime of midnight struck, a great cheer went up and let everyone know that Voldemort was truly gone forever.
And looking around at all the smiling faces, the reporter, watching from an open doorway, was safe in the knowledge that, here, she had found her story. Here, was an untold legend, just waiting to be revealed.